Recently, I’ve been locking myself in my room, getting on Gog.com, and launching any of the point and click adventure games in my library of around one hundred old-school titles – no, I have no life. So getting the opportunity to play Armikrog was a real treat for me since I have been binging on these adventure games. As soon as I launched the first cutscene I was instantly hooked.
I wasn’t excited because of the fact that I’m an enthusiast for the adventure genre but because the entire game is modeled in clay animation. This could be mistaken for an Aardman Studios project when it’s actually another company. From the creators of Earthworm Jim and Doug TenNapel (Neverhood Chronicles), we’re being given an obscure fantasy game with two peculiar protagonists. Tommynaut – a tall man with black eyes and a grape-like chest etched with the letter “T” – and Beak-Beak – the blind dog – the only two characters to control in this misadventure. The story is quite simple and oddly resembles something you’d expect from an Adventure Time episode.
Tommynaut and Beak-Beak crash landed on a foreign planet and seemed to be stuck there due to the engine to their ship becoming unresponsive. After a being jump-attacked by a threatening life-form, Tommynaut and Beak-Beak race to the nearest shelter – a fortress of sorts. Tommynaut questioned whether or not to enter. He was soon forced to make his decision when the monster that attacked them before scared them both into the fortress. This all set up an impressive introductory sequence, but it’s the gameplay that matters the most.
One might say it’s a simple point and click title, but don’t let the basic setup deceive you. Armikrog has to be one of the most challenging yet intuitive puzzle platformer games I have played this year. For example, the first obstacle was a real stumper even though it gave the first object right away. After Tommynaut locks the monster out of the fortress, having almost being eaten by a gigantic grizzly beast and its friend he and Beak-Beak got presented with a lever lying on the ground in front of them. The lever can simply be attached to the wall and automatically open the door. Pretty simple, right? Well not entirely. Once the two characters enter the next room, another door can be seen opene with an additional handle missing. What could that missing lever do? That was up to the player to figure out, and boy was it a thinker. I won’t spoil the details but I will tell you that it requires Tommynaut’s pal, Beak-Beak, and his ultrasonic power to point out objects or symbols that cannot be made out by the human eye.
I found that using two characters as a means to solve puzzles offered a great opportunity for discovering new and unique ways through each challenge presented. Once the first obstacle was completed the next one turned out to be a series of trial and error. This was where the gameplay really opened up by allowing access to a vine-like elevator that can be taken by Tommynaut and Beak-Beak to the certain levels of the fortress. Fellow friends and strangers can be found lurking around some areas like Arachnid-ham Lincoln – a spider dressed in a suit and top hat with a beard carrying a letter. Another would be a statue that, when touched, releases a spirit – resembling Obi-wan Kenobi – that provides hints and clues to solving certain puzzles. I couldn’t help but notice that every background was compiled of clay. Colorful and oddly sculpted clay landscape layered throughout each section of the levels explored. I instantly thought of Oddworld creators and Tim Shafer combined creating an outlandish atmosphere concealing two curiously-bizarre characters. Also the music is fantastic. The composer, Terry Scott Taylor, did the original soundtrack for Neverhood, so it was no surprise to hear similar tunes. Take, for instance, the main menu screen where wailing and chanting of men and women is played in a cartoonish overtone. There’s even an old rawhide tune from the Wild West to be heard. The voice actors play their parts very convincingly and that can be seen through the relationship built between Tommynaut and Beak-Beak. I found the cast to be especially impressive. I’m not too sure about Beak-Beak but the voice of Tommynaut is none other than Mystery Science Theater 3000, Michael J. Nelson. The other voice actors one can notice throughout the game are Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite) and Rob Paulsen (Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain).
Alas, the copy I’ve been playing had certain restrictions in place but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the overall experience. They were only minor glitches and a bug here or there but nothing to make a big fuss over since the game was only in its beta stage.
I’m really excited for the upcoming adventure, as I am about all my point and click adventure games. Also, Armikrog’s usage of colorful and imaginative clay animation, along with mind-stumping puzzles, offers many opportunities for a gratifying experience. I’m sure that Armikrog will have all the kinks worked out so that the errors I have witnessed in the preview build don’t pop out anymore. Armikrog is set to release on the 18th of August, 2015 so be sure to check it out on GOG.com, Steam, Playstation 4 or Wii U, as well as staying tuned for our review of the game.